A Voice Heard Round The World

After sending an MP3 of my audio demo to a sound production house in Scotland, I was pleased when the talent coordinator e-mailed right back. His cryptic message made me scramble a bit, however: he wrote: “Now here’s a Brill demo!” “Cool!” thinks I: “He has a demo he wants me to record! For a product named ‘Brill’! Is that like ‘Brillo’? We have that here. Is it a Scottish scouring pad? I wonder…” I inspected his e-mail and couldn’t see the copy for the demo either in the body of the e-mail or as an attachment, so I e-mailed back asking where the script for “Brill” was. His reply indicated that much laughter had erupted from across the pond — he explained, simply, that he thought *my* demo that I sent was brilliant — or “Brill” in Scottish shorthand (in my defense, this was long before “Brill” slowly made it into North American slang. Now, you hear it all the time.)

Aside from differences in vernacular, worling with an international clientele poses some interesting challenges; home recording and connectivity makes borders non-existent and eliminates limitations of where you can work — if you can find sound studios, ad agencies, or private companies who are seeking a North American-accented voice to work with, the possibilities are endless. Be prepared for the phone to ring at odd hours — some international clients I have — despite careful explanation — still do not understand the differences in time zones.

I interacted with a jingle producer in Turkey a few years back — I explained to him, while we were ironing out the working details of our partnership — that I must obtain pre-payment from him, at least in the formative months of us working together, until some trust had been established. The malapropism in his reply still makes me smile to this day;  he wrote back: “I need to THRUST you; you need to THRUST me…” Not quite the partnership I envisioned.

I’ve worked for years with a sound studio in Germany, as the voice of US Military Hospitals across Germany — a reassuring “voice from home” for those stationed there whose families require medical attention. After sending a routine e-mail to the engineer in Munich after the session, asking how everything was sounding, he wrote back: “Well, it all sounds strange to our ears, but that has nothing to do with you!” We think of a North-American “sound” as prevalent, and neutral — it’s odd to think about engineers overwhelmed by my “strong, exotic accent” , much like engineers in Iowa would gather round and listen to — and shake their heads over, say, a German demo.

A wonderful sound house in Melbourne  Australia hires me to voice a lot of projects for the Middle East market — the Sheraton Kuwait, Crown Plaza Abu Dhabi, and Raddison S.A.S. Sarjah all run IVR’s and on-hold systems voiced by me; as well as The National Bank of Kuwait. I’m also kept quite busy voicing the English prompts for the mobility platform for a fast-growing telco in Singapore.

It’s satisfying and fascinating working with clients from other countries — it’s gratifying to supply rapid turnaround on projects for customers even thousands of miles away, and it’s interesting to ponder how friends and family members of mine who are spread far and wide have as good a chance of randonly stumbling across my telephone prompts by accident just as easily as local family members calling our local utility company.

Next week, I’ll delve into the dark world of telemarketing — either by auto-dialer or by live operator (which I’ve found to be fairly easy to ditch if I drop into “telephone voice” and ask them not to call again!)


1 Comment »

  1. S Jebbitt Said:


    Stumbled across your blog while looking for a company that provides IVR solutions in Abu Dhabi on behalf of a client. I’d be very interested in having the contact details of any companies you know (including the one you mentioned in Melbourne) that could help, or if you do freelance requests?

    Please let me know.

    Kind regards,


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